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Sharky Extreme : Monthly Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide September 26, 2008





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    October Extreme Gaming PC Buyer's Guide
    By Thomas Soderstrom :  October 26, 2007

    Networking: Integrated Dual Gigabit

    Current Cost: $0
    Consecutive Guides: 11
    Price Change: N/A

    Both of our recommended motherboards include excellent Dual Gigabit Networking support, making discrete controllers a waste of money and space for most buyers. But those who need more ports might consider an Intel PRO/1000 PT Server Adapter. Intel's long and glorious history in network controllers has all but displaced competitors at this market level, and the PRO/1000 PT is available in single, dual, and quad port designs.

    The single port card uses a PCI-Express x1 slot for better flexibility in placement, while multiport cards use an x4 slot. The newer slot standard was chosen because legacy 32-bit PCI can only support gigabit transfers in one direction at a time, while each PCI-Express lane is both twice as fast in each direction and bi-directional. Anyone who can't spare a PCI-Express slot can substitute a 64-bit PCI PRO/1000 MT in 32-bit mode, since these are cross-compatible, but with an obvious loss in performance.

    Operating System: Windows XP Professional SP2 OEM

    Current Cost: $139
    Consecutive Guides: 19
    Price Change: $0

    Windows XP still performs better than Windows Vista, is supported by a greater variety of software products, continues to handle a wider range of hardware and peripherals, and lacks some of the digital content restrictions that have caused so many professionals to scorn Microsoft's so-called "upgrade". This is especially true in the gaming community, where many enthusiasts have shunned Microsoft's latest operating system.

    So many users have rejected Vista that Microsoft was forced to extend Windows XP availability into 2008. The good news for XP users is that current CD's have several additional updates wrapped in.

    UPS: OPTI-UPS Enhanced Series ES1000C

    Current Cost: $100
    Consecutive Guides: 3
    Price Change: -$10

    A UPS can be cheap insurance against both power surges (spikes) and brownouts (droops), and even prevent data loss in the event of a complete power failure. The value of this security should never be underestimated for any system, but increases with the cost of internal hardware.

    Rated at 1000VA with an exceptional 700W load capacity, the OPTI-UPS Enhanced Series 1000C was previously chosen to support upgrades to SLI graphics and quad core processing, and with dual GeForce 8800 GTX cards, we're already halfway there. Its already moderate price drops another $10 and sets it apart from similarly-rated units, while enough user feedback exists to assure us of the quality in our selection.

    OPTI-UPS goes a step beyond similarly priced competitors in both wattage and disclosure. A "typical runtime load" of 45-55 minutes sounds similar to what competing products cite, but OPTI also provides the actual runtime capabilities most others won't mention. Specifically, this unit is rated at 3 minutes full load capacity (700W) and ten minutes half-load capacity. The load time numbers may look small compared to the estimated run time, but one must wonder what competitors are trying to hide by not publishing their load times.

    Our configurations are expected to "pull" around 500W of actual power during gaming, so users powering both the system and the LCD display should have at least three minutes to save their game and power down if ever their local power grid does go offline. Running less strenuous tasks whenever the grid goes down could bring your "typical runtime" in line with the company's estimates.


    Page 1 Introduction and Case
    Page 2 Processors and Cooling
    Page 3 Motherboards and Memory
    Page 4 Hard Drives and DVD-R/RW
    Page 5 Video Card, LCD Display and Audio
    Page 6 Mouse, Keyboard & Controller
  • Page 7 Communications, Operating System, etc.
    Page 8 Price Roundup and Closing Remarks

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